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Day 1 of Champions Istanbul started with Group A — styled by some as the group of death. The opening matches ended with Leviatán toppling Team Liquid in an encouraging start for the Latin American team.

Leviatán claimed all four pistols in their 2-0 series win. They also won a handful of bonuses and light buy rounds. In an interview after the match, Leviatán’s in-game leader Francisco “kiNgg” Aravena said there’s always a significant amount of randomness when it comes to pistols.

“Winning every pistol, it gives you a boost,” kiNgg said. “Not only in the score. It gives you a boost of confidence.”

Francisco “kiNgg” Aravena of Leviatán poses onstage at VALORANT Champions 2022 Istanbul Groups Stage on August 31, 2022 in Istanbul, Turkey. | Photo by Colin Young-Wolff. Provided by Riot Games.

On the other side of the story, Liquid put up a good fight despite starting both maps in a steep deficit.

“It’s a difficult loss, but I’m confident moving forward,” Liquid’s Adil “ScreaM” Benrlitom said. “We already know what went wrong.”

Liquid suffered for not having had much time to prepare between the end of the Last Chance Qualifiers and the start of Champions. ScreaM said that — on top of playing well — Leviatán read all of Liquid’s strategies well, having analyzed their play at LCQ.

Even with their backs against the wall, ScreaM is confident. Liquid’s next match is against EDward Gaming, the first Chinese team to grace the VALORANT Champions Tour. As for Leviatán, they go on to face Paper Rex in the winner’s match at 2 p.m. ET on Sept. 1.

“We’re gonna take that revenge against Leviatán,” he said. “I don’t see them winning against Paper Rex to be honest. I believe we win against EDG and then we win against Leviatán and we make it to the playoffs.”

Leviatán kiNgg on his team’s chances at Champions

Leviatán are the Latin American first seed at Champions Istanbul. The team had a good showing at Masters Copenhagen and has used the time since then to bootcamp in Europe. Weeks of practice seem to show in their polished gameplay. The team also has their coach Rodrigo “Onur” Dalmagro, who wasn’t able to join them in Copenhagen.

“Having Onur, it changes a lot of things,” kiNgg said. “He’s really good at reading the game and stopping the momentum of the enemy team.”

Coach Rodrigo “Onur” Dalmagro of Leviatan reacts onstage at VALORANT Champions 2022 Istanbul Groups Stage on August 31, 2022 in Istanbul, Turkey. | Photo by Lance Skundrich. Provided by Riot Games.

According to kiNgg, the win against Liquid takes a weight off their shoulders. He also said that the team doesn’t feel the pressure they felt at Copenhagen, where they needed to qualify for Champions. Overall, they feel lighter and more calm heading into the next round of matches.

A good showing at Champions would cement Leviatán’s status as the top team in LATAM, jumping past KRÜ Esports, who laid claim to that title throughout 2021.

“We see ourselves as the strongest team in Latin America,” kiNgg said. “The things we’re doing, the fundamentals we’re applying to the game, I think we are a stronger team. I don’t know by how far. Both teams are pretty good.”

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